In this project, we aim to bring the passion of a dozen core volunteers to a developing Asian country for charity work centered on education. Our intentions are:

  • To interact with and enlighten children through various engaging classroom and outdoor activities
  • To involve volunteers with various different interests (such as art, language and sport) in the designing of those activities
  • To share our passion towards learning with rural areas and inspire those we come into contact with
  • To become more aware of development issues through first hand experience and exchange of cultural values with the host community
  • And above all, to build a foundation of trust and mutual respect with the local community, on which we can co-ordinate a second trip next year.

Construction of the school

In November 2010, we established partnership with New Futures Organization (NFO), an NGO based in Cambodia; and from 15th to 19th December 2010, three members of our committee visited Cambodia for a preliminary trip, where they met the local committee of NFO to negotiate the actual details of school building. Since then, we have raised a total of GBP 5000 for the construction of the school, and the building of the school is due to be completed by August, 2011.

Summer Service Trip 2011

At CHOICE, we believe that the value of the experience for both volunteers as well as the local host parties involved would far exceed what we would achieve by merely sending the money to the country that we are trying to help. Our goal is not simply about the physical materialization our project would generate, but the cultural exchange, the gruel, the labour, and ultimately the incomparable sense of accomplishment that would come from the dedication and involvement in such a project.

 To achieve that goal, CHOICE has organized a Summer Trip to Takeo, Cambodia from 15th to 21st September 2011, during which we will help build furniture for and decorate our newly constructed school. We will also be visiting the orphanage under NFO, where we will play some simple educational games with the orphans. Currently, we have recruited 20 volunteers to join us in our effort. It is our hope that after joining our trip, volunteers will understand that as young people we can make a difference, and be motivated to proactively participate in CHOICE and other volunteering programmes.

2 thoughts on “Project 2010/11

  1. how much of an impact do you actually think you have created in the long run by just merely shifting a few tables into an empty shelter and perhaps carrying out other menial tasks? will the kids actually remember the 1 or 2 lessons you have taught after you are long gone? this is a project which merely looks good on the surface but is in essence, very much empty on the inside. no real lasting infrastructure has been laid and while I do not deny that you may have brought them the joy of having some visitors, you have not provided anything else other than physical labour, which is well…still commendable i guess.

    1. Thanks a lot for the comment- actually, a lot of what you have mentioned is very sound and just. Throughout last year, we spent a lot of time arguing with ourselves: how much could we do in 7 days? If we take all the money we spent on travelling we could possibly build another 3/4 schools- is this a waste of resources?

      It really was going there and seeing the children, the school and the villages that really changed my view. It is true- we did not achieve much. We went into villages and saw children suffering from bacterial infections from contaminated water, schools where teaching quality was drastic- there is nothing we could do about it, we simply don’t have the knowledge, the experience and the resources.

      Yet, when we opened the new school (which we funded the construction of) at Benmao Village, the whole place were filled with young faces yearning to learn, and there were so many children who didn’t manage to get a seat- we knew there is something people like us can easily do. Of course as a budding student project building one school a year is stretching us to the limit, but if only we can get others to join in as well. That’s why we emphasize on actually bringing our volunteers there, to help, to play with the children, to visit village homes and get to know the people they’re helping, so they too would feel the passion we have for our cause. We brought 15 to Takeo last summer- it worked. We now have a developing sister project.

      You mentioned sustainability- it’s constantly on our minds, we want it to last too. We painted the tables and chairs and wrote English vocabulary on them, in the hope that children will see them and learn by repetition after we were gone. The English teaching team spent a great deal of effort, looking into the differences between Khmer (the Cambodian language) and English, devising lesson plans that aim to create long lasting effects. For example, if you taught a child how to pronounce “th” (it takes about 20 minutes), he/she will never forget it. This is how we try to make our impacts more sustainable.

      Our last small contribution, I feel, is in helping the people to voice out. These people in the rural villages of Cambodia, they hear little about the outside world, and the outside world hears little about them. By going there and talking to them, we act as a channel for them to tell people all over the globe, who they really are, and what they need.

      I’m gonna end my reply with a small story: we brought newspaper to Cambodia for protecting surfaces when we were painting, loads of children found it fascinating and starts “reading” them despite the fact that the articles were all in chinese and they couldn’t understand a word of it. Then this girl came along, looked around cautiously and picked up some newspapers, folded it neatly, carried it back to her room and put it into her bedside drawer. We really don’t aim to change the world, it’s small things like this that makes a difference.

      We’re doing another trip to a different village in Cambodia this coming September- experience it for yourself, perhaps it will change you too. please don’t hesitate to email us at cambridge.choice@gmail.com

      thanks again!

      – Emmy, on behalf of CHOICE

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